Little Inferno Makes a Comment on Games, and Maybe Internet Culture
It’s not altogether unlike playing video games, and Little Inferno may well have you questioning the countless hours you dedicate to your
fireplace computer screen, as you burn things explore digital playgrounds that never actually existed. But parallels seem to exist in other areas of digital life and culture, as well. The Little Inferno might be your video game console or your PC, and it might also be your Facebook account, your email, and your tendency to equate burning “liking” with actually accomplishing something.
Recurring through the game is the discussion of the winters growing ever colder, and the greater and greater prevalence of fireplaces and chimneys in the game’s city that bellow thick black smoke into the sky. There’s even speculation that the smoke may be causing the winter cold to worsen, but that suggestion doesn’t come by way of the (in-game) Tomorrow Corporation (which manufactures and sells the Little Inferno fireplaces and all the stuff you can burn), which continues to reinforce that you should burn things to keep warm. Someone else will handle the overreaching problem of endless winters — you just contribute by keeping yourself warm, the company seems to suggest.
It’s also telling that only in the end of the game, when you’ve literally burned everything, that anything new happens. At some point, the game reaches a critical mass and things change drastically — but only once the fireplace, and the fire within, have consumed everything.
The Tomorrow Company’s points about video games ring clear throughout Little Inferno, but if you feel like extrapolating further, it’s a pretty bleak picture. In the end, even when you do break free of the grip of the fireplace, it seems as though it’s already too late to save the world, or the other people still stuck in front of their fireplaces.
But keeping yourself warm is not the same as beating back the cold. Playing isn’t the same as living. Clicking isn’t the same as doing.
Interesting that a video game is suggesting we all get outside and do more.